MARSHALL - District 21A Rep. Chris Swedzinski appreciates the recent wet weather, not just because the state's corn and soybean fields were in dire need of moisture, but also because the area farmer can continue serving at the Capitol with a clear conscience, knowing the rain would've kept him out of the fields anyway.
"I've got corn and soybeans to plant, so the rain is great because I don't feel guilty being here," he said Monday, the day Republican leaders had hoped to have everything wrapped up at the Capitol. "We've got some time left here to get more things done and I think it will go real quick. We've got a lot of smaller bills taken care of."
But it's the larger issues still outstanding that will prevent the Legislature from adjourning as soon as it would've preferred - a $1 billion stadium, a Republican tax-cut package and a bonding bill.
Under the legal definition of a "legislative day" - from gavel to gavel - legislators could've met until 6:59 a.m. today and still have met the GOP's April 30 self-imposed deadline.
"It depends on how engaged the governor is going to be in the next few days," said Swedzinski, R-Ghent. "I'm hoping he will reengage with the bonding bill, reengage with the tax bill and the Vikings stadium, other than throwing bombs our way. Obviously, we want to get the Vikings done, but leadership is about more than tossing bombs into the fox hole."
Gov. Mark Dayton said Monday negotiations on the stadium bill will need more time.
"The stadium process is still chugging along, but it's still a hard pill to swallow because there are so many moving parts," Swedzinski said. "There are still a lot of questions from the Minneapolis delegation, and that bothers me. I believe if they do any project that involves that much money and a tax increase there, the city residents should be engaged in that."
District 22 Sen. Doug Magnus, R-Slayton, predicts the tax bill will get completed sooner rather than later and could be followed by a recess so the Legislature wouldn't burn any legislative days. He said lawmakers could then return later in the week to wrap up the bonding bill and possibly the stadium issue.
"It's hard to tell yet," he said. "A lot of it will rely on the agreement on the tax bill. With the bonding bill, the governor has made his thoughts known and wants a larger bill than what the Legislature is talking about."
The tax plan previously agreed on by a House/Senate conference committee freezes the statewide business property tax, creates a tax break for investors in new businesses and provides an upfront sales tax exemption for businesses that buy new capital equipment. It also includes Dayton's initiative to provide a tax credit to businesses that hire veterans.
On bonding, the House originally had two bonding bill proposals - $221 million for the State Capitol Renovation and a $280 million borrowing plan for local projects.
The Capitol portion of the House bill failed by one vote in the House on April 19. The Senate has budgeted $25 million for Capitol restoration in its construction projects bill and has proposed a public works bill that spends $561 million on projects throughout Minnesota. Dayton's bonding plan borrows $775 million.
District 21 Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, said most of the attention Monday was on the stadium, and the bonding and tax bills.
He said the Senate's bonding bill, along with providing tax relief to businesses and commercial properties, also might give some tax relief to residential property owners.
"This is a bill that would be very good for our homeowners, too," he said. "Right now I think there are some sticking points, but it is a really good bill."
He said the tax bill will more than likely get wrapped up before the bonding bill.
Magnus said any tax relief for homeowners might not happen until sometime down the road.
"We want some tax relief, but it would be more on the business side," he said. "We just don't have the money. We're hoping to put business tax relief in there to spur job growth. Our hope is, down the road, if we can do that we'll possibly have additional relief in the years to come."
DFL Sen. John Marty on Monday afternoon called for a session adjournment and for state leaders to sit down with the team and work on finding a funding mechanism for the stadium that doesn't hurt taxpayers.
"It's not a question of whether legislators are ready to vote on the bill," Marty said in a news release. "It's that the bill isn't ready for a vote. This may serve (Vikings owner) Mr. (Zygi) Wilf and his partners well, but it is not fiscally responsible to the taxpayers."